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Showing posts from 2020

Sermon on Romans 3:19-28, for Reformation Day 2020 (A), "God's Righteousness"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. What does God have to prove? He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone, right? He’s GOD after all. But in Romans 3:19-28, it says twice that God proved or showed His righteousness (v. 25-26). What did He do and why? God showed His righteousness by justifying believers in Jesus. On Reformation Day, we continue to contemplate that great word “righteousness” as today we reflect on God’s Righteousness. As we zero in on this aspect, many other facets of this beautiful diamond sparkle unseen. We are only glimpsing the great gift of God’s Righteousness from one angle. Righteousness is a central theme of Romans and Apostle Paul’s ministry itself. It became central to Martin Luther’s Reformation 500 years ago. Not only Paul and Luther beat that drum. This theme of righteousness runs all through the Bible. Two key points today: 1) God’s righteousness is His character, and 2) He imputes or credits His righteousness to us.…

Sermon on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Righteousness in Action"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. We continue our Reformation month theme of “righteousness”. We opened by checking two very different claims we can make before God. Only claiming Christ’s righteousness by faith meets God’s approval. Last week in the wedding parable we saw the robe of Christ’s righteousness is the only acceptable garment at His banquet. Today, we’re going to talk about a different aspect of righteousness. Those first two weeks focused on righteousness as God’s gift—the righteousness that comes by faith. We call this “passive righteousness”, because we didn’t do anything to deserve or receive it—it’s simply GRACE—God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. But today I want to talk about “active righteousness” or “righteousness in action.” Consider, if faith is a channel or receptacle for God’s gift of righteousness, does the received gift stay sleeping or quiet within us? No! It’s a living gift we use! Halloween …

Sermon on Matthew 22:1-10 (and Isaiah 61:10), for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Robe of Righteousness"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Our Introit today says: my God has “clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). Keep this image of a “robe of righteousness” in mind as we discuss the parable of the Wedding Banquet from Matthew 22. A key point in the parable is when a guest without wedding garments is thrown out of the feast. Continuing our Reformation theme of “righteousness”, from last week, let’s see how that “robe of righteousness” and the wedding garment are connected. Last week we talked about two very different claims: claiming our own righteousness or claiming Christ’s righteousness. Only Christ’s righteousness gives legal standing in God’s courts. Putting clothes on that same abstract idea, Jesus’ parable pictures worthy clothes for a wedding banquet. First you may have noticed how drastic everything is in this parable. Without explanation the ki…

Sermon on Philippians 3:4-14, for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Two Very Different Claims"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. During October, I am going to highlight some Reformation themes from our Scripture readings as I have done in the past, leading up to the 503rd anniversary of Luther’s nailing the 95 Theses. October 31, 1517 marked a monumental turning point in the history of the Christian church, as Martin Luther began to reopen the Scripture and led a reexamination of how the teachings of the church compared to the Bible, and led a return to God’s Word. Key among those rediscoveries of Biblical teaching was the teaching of “righteousness.” For October, as “Reformation month”, we will examine the Biblical concept of righteousness. In Philippians 3, Paul contrasts two very different kinds of claims we can make before God. Human beings stand “before God”, who is the Creator and Judge of all. We can’t hide or escape His judgment. Digging our head in the sand and saying there is no God, is like a toddler c…

Sermon on Philippians 2:14-16, 17th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Children of God"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Our verses today from Paul’s prison letter to the Philippians echo Moses’ farewell speech to the children of Israel. Both Moses and Paul were at the end of their life and ministry. Moses had spoken God’s law one last time to Israel. Then he warns that if they forsake God’s commandments and turn back to other gods, they would no longer be God’s children because they’re blemished—a crooked and twisted generation. Paul echoes these words in his letter to his beloved Philippians: “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”Paul calls children of God to grow into who you are Christ Jesus. God’s childre…

Sermon on Matthew 20:1-16, for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), “Better than fair”

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! SHE GOT MORE THAN ME!!!” “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! HE GOT THE PROMOTION I DESERVED!” “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! LOOK HOW PERFECT AND EASY THEIR LIFE IS AND LOOK AT MINE!” “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! I’M ALWAYS LAST!” “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! I DID MORE WORK, BUT THEY GOT PAID THE SAME!” “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! THEY DIDN’T EVEN STUDY AND GOT A BETTER GRADE THAN ME ON THE TEST!” I’m sure you can add to this list. Nothing can make us feel greedy, grumpy, whiny, jealous, or even just plain angry than perceiving some sort of unfairness. Truth be told, our eyes don’t always see the full picture. Glossy magazine or internet ads push all our buttons for lust, jealousy and greed. Our friends or even a stranger’s postings and photos only show us a “picture perfect slice” of their life. Our constant comparisons leave us dissatisfied and resentful. We cry “foul” all the time, but we make pretty poor umpires…

Sermon on Matthew 18:21-35, for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Forgiveness from the Heart"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. In today’s parable, “The Unforgiving Servant”, Jesus teaches about forgiveness. Forgiveness was a major theme in May, from John 20, where Jesus commissioned His apostles to spread His word of forgiveness to those who repent, and to withhold forgiveness (or bind sins) for those who do not repent. Matthew 18 today, is one of the major passages in the Gospel where Jesus deals with forgiveness and unforgiveness. In the parable, a servant is forgiven an enormous debt. A debt that would have taken several lifetimes over to be able to repay. There is no way on earth that he could ever repay it, but he begs for mercy from his master and gets more than he bargained for…in an incredibly good way! While the servant was hoping for an extension or some leniency, instead his debt is cancelled in full. This unforgettable and undeserved act of generosity spoke volumes about his master. How could it be …

Sermon on Romans 13:1-10, for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Under God"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Today I want speak to you from Romans 13, our epistle reading, because it’s that time of year again where politics loom close in many people’s minds, election battles heat up, and everyone gets “hot and bothered.” Romans 13 is that passage that clearly lays out a Christian’s duty toward the government, and the government’s duty before God. I need to preface my sermon with several “boundary line” statements (in no particular order), so I’m not misunderstood. Number 1: I am your pastor, not a politician, and my role is to preach God’s Truth and the Good News of Jesus Christ, not to advance anyone’s politics or party from the pulpit. Number 2: In it’s proper place, God’s Word is “upstream” from politics and culture, meaning that it should influence your life and your values and morals, before the river of politics and society branches “downstream” from God’s Word. God’s Word critiques a l…